- Lyft announced this week a partnership with assistive community Aira to make its service more accessible to visually impaired riders.
- Aira customers — dubbed "Aira Explorers" — are outfitted with wearable smart glasses that provide Aira service agents with an augmented reality dashboard. Aira Explorers can call the agents to request mobility assistance, during which the agents can watch the AR dashboard and GPS location to provide directions for the Explorer.
- Through the partnership, Aira agents can request Lyft rides for the Explorers, provide important information about the driver, guide the Explorer to the pick-up point, track the ride and ensure the Explorer is dropped off safely at the destination point.
In a blog post, the American Foundation for the Blind touts ride-sharing services as having "changed the transportation game for people with visual impairments." Both Lyft and its biggest competitor, Uber, are equipped with VoiceOver — which reads app information, including driver name and license plate number to users — but for fully blind riders, this VoiceOver function may not be enough for efficient use of the apps.
Lyft's partnership with Aira marks a significant advancement both in the world of ride-sharing and in the assistive community for the visually impaired. Aira CEO Suman Kanuganti said he is "psyched" about the partnership, and touted Lyft as a significant partner due to its mission to make ride-share diverse, inclusive and safe. Earlier this year, Lyft also announced product improvements to empower its deaf and hard-of-hearing community, which included an "Amp" feature to assist deaf drivers.
Lyft has made an obvious effort to position itself as the leader in responsible, inclusive ride-sharing this year as Uber faced a wealth of scandals, ranging from sexual harassment to a data breach cover-up. While Uber's services continue to gain popularity around the world, it has a ways to go in order to catch up to Lyft in terms of customer support and loyalty.